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Obama and ‘the people themselves’

David Green, 22 April 2016

President Obama appears to have no awareness of how the founders of his own country thought about freedom and democracy.

Thomas Jefferson, a founding father and the third American president, argued: ‘I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves’.

James Madison, the fourth American president, said that constitutional disputes could not be resolved ‘without an appeal to the people themselves, who, as grantors of the commission, can alone declare its true meaning and enforce its observance.’

And much later, Abraham Lincoln said in his inaugural address:

‘A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible. The rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left.’

President Lincoln could have been warning about the EU. It is a system of rule by a minority, with some camouflage to make it look like a democracy. No American who believed in his own heritage of freedom would expect his true friends to give up the right to make their government accountable to the people themselves.

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